Everybody has an inspirational role model in their life; someone who inspires them to do better, a person who they look up to and wish that they could be more like them. For me, that person is my mother. I have blogged so many times about how my mother started working after my father’s death and raised me and my brothers. It was not an easy task but she stood tall during tough times and today all three of her children are well settled. I owe a lot to my mother who strived hard to provide the best possible education to me. She made sure that I realized the importance of financial independence for women, citing her own example.
Yet there were times when I felt that had my father been there for me, I would have faced less unpleasant incidents. Growing up, I realized on more than one occasion, that some men in our society think that just because a woman is without her husband/father/son she is vulnerable and easy prey and such men consider women as the weaker sex and without a male beside her she is fair game.
I remember this incident that happened when I was studying in 11th. My brother and I were preparing for our exams in our home, when my mother returned from her bank in the afternoon with a visitor. She said that the gentleman with her was my father’s best friend when we were living in Bangalore and he was also a professor in college. He was visiting Mangalore for official purposes and he had some work in evening. Till then he would rest at our home. He seemed to be a jovial man and reminisced about the good times he had shared with my dad. He also offered to help me with my Mathematics syllabus since he was a professor on the same subject.
After my mother went back to her work he sat down with me to assist me in my studies. But he had a different agenda on his mind. Soon his stray hands and greedy eyes made his intentions clear to me. The fact that he was my father’s best friend and yet he could molest me in my own home, in my brother’s presence was inconceivable to me. My mind filled with red rage and while I was still trying to process the horrific happenings, my brother grabbed the man’s collar and kicked him out of our house, throwing some punches in between.
That one incident shattered my confidence and broke my self-esteem. My adolescent mind was grappling with the truth that if a man who claimed to be my father’s friend was capable of such appalling behavior then how I would survive in the outside world that was probably filled with more such men. Isn’t it safer to marry and become a housewife than work in a hostile environment where women are perceived for their physical statistics or considered to be mere eye-candy? I was very confused, angry and depressed.
It was my mother who helped me deal with this incident by assuring me that not all men look upon women as sexual objects. She gave me examples of the men working in her bank who considered her as their peer, men who worked along with her and supported in her journey as a single working mother. I looked at my own brothers and friends who respected women and believed that women should be given equal opportunities in all professional fields.
Slowly my self esteem grew and I looked back on this unpleasant incident as something that happened with an uneducated and unscrupulous man. With my mother’s guidance I understood that I or the absence of father figure in my life was not a reason for what had occurred. Had my mother not discussed with me and instead chose to ignore the matter, then I wouldn’t have gained my confidence back to complete my Engineering degree and mould my moderately successful career in IT.
And though I still come across such men like my father’s “friend” every now and then, I know that raising my voice and fighting back for my dignity will shame them and put them back in their rightful place.